Past dynamics of the Cook Glacier

Reconstructing the response of the Cook Glacier system to past climate warming

Degree type


Closing date

25 September 2023



Citizenship requirement

Domestic / International


$31,500pa for 3.5 years

About the research project

The Antarctic Ice Sheet is currently out of equilibrium with anthropogenic climate warming. Increased Antarctic meltwater production and changes in winds is establishing a positive feedback loop with increased ice shelf basal melt due to enhanced upwelling of relatively warm Circumpolar Deep Water driving further ice mass loss. Multi-metre sea level rise is projected for The larger thicker East Antarctic Ice Sheet is predicted to loss ice over the next 200-500 years with large changes in regions most susceptible to changes in ocean heat flux (Golledge et al., 2017). The George V Land sector of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet is drained by the Mertz, Ninnis and Cook Glaciers. These glaciers are of particular interest because the ice sheet sits in the low-lying Wilkes Subglacial Basin, making it susceptible to marine ice sheet instability due to the inland-sloping bed. Historical satellite era observations (Miles et al., 2018), ice sheet simulations (Jordan et al., 2023) and geological evidence (Cook et al 2013; Wilson et al., 2018) all suggest that the George V Land ice sheet is highly sensitivity to atmospheric and ocean forcing. Previous research into the past ice dynamics of the Wilkes Subglacial Basin relies on records collected to the west of Cook Glacier, which integrate changes across the region. In 2021, new sediment cores from the continental slope adjacent to the Cook Glacier Ice shelf were collected by the Italian RVS Laura Bassi, which allow more specific hypotheses relating to the past stability of the Cook glacier system during warmer periods to be tested and compared to “downstream” records that integrate the response of Mertz, Ninnis and Cook Glaciers.

This project will use radiogenic isotopes and detrital mineral provenance approaches to test the relationship between sediment provenance and grounding line position, which relies on the understanding of the geological provinces eroded by the ice and deposited in the ocean. Grain size separation will be carried out to distinguish the influence of ice-rafted debris and current-transported sediment on the provenance record, and determine the signal of proximal versus ‘upstream’ ice sheet change. The impact of ice sheet change on the surrounding ocean will be investigated by pairing the provenance changes with marine productivity proxies to investigate the role of glacial meltwater on local iron fertilisation during past warm periods. There will also be an opportunity to explore new proxies for tracing past meltwater input during period of ice sheet retreat. The PhD student will work closely with international collaborators to integrate environmental proxy data on a suite of sediment cores.


Cook, C. P., Van De Flierdt, T., Williams, T., Hemming, S. R., Iwai, M., Kobayashi, M., … Yamane, M. (2013). Dynamic behaviour of the East Antarctic ice sheet during Pliocene warmth. Nature Geoscience, 6(9), 765–769.

Golledge, N. R., Levy, R. H., McKay, R. M., & Naish, T. R. (2017). East Antarctic ice sheet most vulnerable to Weddell Sea warming. Geophysical Research Letters, TBD(TBD), TBD.

Jordan, J. R., Miles, B. W. J., Gudmundsson, G. H., Jamieson, S. S. R., Jenkins, A., & Stokes, C. R. (2023). Increased warm water intrusions could cause mass loss in East Antarctica during the next 200 years. Nature Communications, 14(1), 1–11.

Miles, B. W. J., Stokes, C. R., & Jamieson, S. S. R. (2018). Velocity increases at Cook Glacier, East Antarctica, linked to ice shelf loss and a subglacial flood event. The Cryosphere, 12(10), 3123–3136.

Wilson, D. J., Bertram, R. A., Needham, E. F., van de Flierdt, T., Welsh, K. J., McKay, R. M., … Escutia, C. (2018). Ice loss from the East Antarctic Ice Sheet during late Pleistocene interglacials. Nature, 561(7723), 383–386.

Primary Supervisor

Meet Dr Taryn Noble


The successful applicant will receive a scholarship which provides:

  • a living allowance stipend funded by ARC of $31,500 per annum (2023 rate, indexed annually) for 3.5 years
  • a relocation allowance of up to $2,000
  • a tuition fees offset covering the cost of tuition fees for up to four years (domestic applicants only)

If successful, international applicants will receive a University of Tasmania Fees Offset for up to four years.

As part of the application process you may indicate if you do not wish to be considered for scholarship funding.

Other funding opportunities and fees

For further information regarding other scholarships on offer, and the various fees of undertaking a research degree, please visit our Scholarships and fees on research degrees page.


Applicants should review the Higher Degree by Research minimum entry requirements.

Ensure your eligibility for the scholarship round by referring to our Key Dates.

Additional eligibility criteria specific to this project/scholarship:

  • Applicants must be able to undertake the project on-campus

Selection Criteria

The project is competitively assessed and awarded.  Selection is based on academic merit and suitability to the project as determined by the College.

Additional essential selection criteria specific to this project:

  • Critical thinking skills
  • Relevant science degree in geosciences and chemistry
  • Good communication (writing, oral) and quantitative skills
  • Experience working in a lab

Additional desirable selection criteria specific to this project:

  • Coding and data visualisation

Application process

  1. Select your project, and check that you meet the eligibility and selection criteria, including citizenship;
  2. Contact Dr Taryn Noble to discuss your suitability and the project's requirements; and
  3. In your application:
    • Copy and paste the title of the project from this advertisement into your application. If you don’t correctly do this your application may be rejected.
    • Submit a signed supervisory support form, a CV including contact details of 2 referees and your project research proposal.
  4. Apply prior to 25 September 2023.

Full details of the application process can be found under the 'How to apply' section of the Research Degrees website.

Following the closing date applications will be assessed within the College. Applicants should expect to receive notification of the outcome by email by the advertised outcome date.

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